From yoga on the front porch to raw chocolate workshops among friends, an 8,000 square foot mansion named Spillian is the grand estate you always wished your family had.
“The home’s incredible interior is a reminder of the Catskills’ sovereignty in the Belle Epoque.”
“The grand home’s eclectic get-togethers have included a Great Gatsby garden party, a parkour weekend, a cheese-making class, and a dreams workshop.”
If you were to dream of the perfect weekend away, it would probably include a beautiful home filled with period furniture, acres of enchanted forest… and a live-in chocolatier, right?
Tucked away in the wooded hills of Delaware County there lies such a place. Formerly known by such grandiose names as the Fleischmann Park House, the Lederer House, and now simply going by “Spillian,” this 8,000 square foot shingle/stick-style mansion has always been something of a gathering spot.
It was built in 1881 for the Fleischmann family (the yeast pioneers after whom the town was named), who gaily entertained the glitterati of the day at this glorious summer “cottage,” and ultimately attracted other wealthy New York City families to the area to build their own palaces.
This house was originally part of the Fleischmanns’ private family estate, with an ornate gated entrance leading to multiple grand homes dotted on the hillside, plus a deer park, tennis court, ornamental gardens dubbed “the finest in all the Catskills,” and a riding arena complete with chandeliers.
While the other homes on the estate eventually fell into disrepair, this particular house retains its original glory, despite having changed hands a few times since 1915 when the Fleischmanns sold it. From the intricate floral murals hand painted on the wood paneling to the marble shaving sinks in the bedrooms and the stately fireplaces throughout, the home’s incredible interior is a reminder of the Catskills’ sovereignty in the Belle Epoque.
The home’s new stewards, Leigh Melander and Mark Somerfield, Pennsylvania natives who moved to this area after more than a decade in southern California, found the house after a two-year search to fulfill a lifelong dream. “My mother was a historic preservationist, and I grew up loving old homes,” explains Melander. “I always knew I would end up doing this.”
It does seem a preternatural fit: This house of fun could not ask for better caretakers than Somerfield, who works in theater as a lighting and set designer; and Melander, who wrote her PhD on frivolity. And their passion for Spillian is unmistakable. Melander has spent countless hours researching the house’s history, speaking to former owners, residents, visitors, and neighbors; and cataloguing the home’s recent revitalization online.
The Fleischmanns were swashbucklers, bons vivants, world travelers, and philanthropists, and Spillian’s new owners celebrate many of these aspects in their approach to the house, even continuing the tradition of the European salon-style informal gatherings.
Spillian is an inn, retreat, community center, and “camp for grown-ups.” Since its opening over a year ago, the grand home’s eclectic get-togethers have included a Great Gatsby garden party, a parkour weekend, a farm stand tour, a cheese-making class, a dreams workshop, and a writing retreat.
In essence, it’s a place to “celebrate who we are – we who can be – and what we want the world to be,” say the owners. And the house seems happy to accommodate: the spacious kitchen is used for cookery classes and catered events. The wide front porch is the perfect spot for some sun-dappled yoga. And the majestic open-plan main floor of the house encourages impromptu musical performances thanks to a concert harp, Steinway baby grand piano -- and frequent wine tastings!
Upstairs, each of the eight bedrooms follows its own whimsical theme, including the Scheherezade room – “a symphony in Persian carpets;” the Four Seasons room, an oversized suite with a wall of curved windows and thought to have been the private sitting room of Max Fleischmann; the Jules Verne room with a perfect balcony overlooking the front lawn and pond; and the Secret Garden room, dedicated to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 classic and complete with painted daisies and dragonflies on the wood paneling.
As a recent guest noted, "If a building can smile, Spillian is grinning from ear to ear.”
For more information, go to spillian.com or call (1-800) 811-3351.
Upcoming Events at Spillian
Soup Sunday Salons
Sundays, 3 PM
Creative conversation coupled with freshly made soup, salad, bread, sweet treat, and coffee or tea. $20.
Sundays, 10 AM
Join Leigh Melander for a relaxed movement class incorporating yoga, Pilates, breath work, and guided imagery work on Spillian's front porch. $10 per class.
Trail U Workshops: Rebuilding Spillian Trails
May 31-June 1
Learn the basics of trail maintenance and building with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. Help carve out a new, publicly accessible trail on the lower portion of Spillian’s acreage. Free.
Camp for Grown-Ups
June 6 – 8
A weekend of adventuring. All of the delights of summer camp as a kid, but with good food and drink. Prices vary.
National Trails Day Celebration: Opening of Spillian's Trails
June 7: Trails open 10 am until 6 PM; dinner & bonfire 6-10PM
Explore the new trails, then enjoy a bonfire feast in the evening, with storytelling and grown up s'mores. Trails: Free. Dinner: $25.
Your Hero's Journey® Redux: A Mythological Toolbox PlayShop
July 13 – 18
Join poet/playwright Robert Walter for a hands-on playshop exploring the hero's journey. After 30 years at the world-famous Esalen Institute in California, this is the very first time this playshop is being offered on the East Coast. Price: See website for rates.